Cam Celebrates 13 Years as a Vovian
We recently introduced our milestones celebration series of blogs with Dan’s 5 year anniversary. With our latest one, we’re taking an even further look back and celebrating a major anniversary milestone for Vovia’s co-founder, Cameron Prockiw.
The year was 2007. The iPhone was released in the spring, Mad Men premiered (a show that will always have a soft spot in most marketers’ hearts) and one of the internet’s finest early memes ‘I Can Haz Cheezburger’ LOLCats consumed the internet. 2007 is also the year Vovia came to be, officially founded by Cam in December of that year. Like the internet and pop culture, Vovia was very different back at its point of conception compared to now, more than 12 years later. To commemorate Cam’s major milestone I sat down with him recently to reflect and relive some of the major highlights and learnings.
Started from a Closet
Cam reminisced about the early days of Vovia without glamourizing any details. In early 2008, Calgary was still enjoying the heyday of the oil and gas boom and office space was hard to come by. But by this point, Vovia was an operation of 4 individuals, including Cam, and they needed a proper office space. Eventually, he found a space with no windows that he described as “literally a closet”. He recalled an encounter early in their time in that co-work space where he met another person who said that a week before they’d moved into the space it had – literally – been a storage closet, and was cleared out to make room for rent-paying Vovians.
The need to get outside from that windowless office was real, but thankfully their growing business offered them lots of opportunities to do that. In those early days of Vovia, the focus was on primarily search marketing – paid search (SEM) and organic (SEO). But quick successes helped Cam discover early on that there was an opportunity at that time to grow their offering and Vovia quickly became a full bigger digital marketing service provider, before ultimately becoming the fully integrated media and marketing intelligence agency that we are today.
When I asked Cam about highlights from the last 12 years with Vovia, there are a few standout examples, and all of them centre around success cases with Vovia helping clients grow and meet their goals. The first one on Cam’s highlight list is Legacy Kitchens. This is a key one for Cam because it’s a local Calgary business and was one of Vovia’s earliest clients (and they are still with us to this day!). Vovia was able to grow alongside Legacy, and worked closely with them as they became a leader in their industry. Having these long term relationships with local clients is definitely one of Cam’s highlights.
Another was Vovia’s work on Travel Alberta. In their work, they helped to significantly increase the level of travel to the province and raise the profile of Alberta’s attractions. It was also how Cam met Susan Murphy, Vovia’s current president, as Susan was working for another agency at the time, one which was also working with Travel Alberta.
Cam has witnessed a lot of changes in the media industry since starting Vovia in 2007. When I asked what he thinks the most interesting development has been, he had a quick answer: the quick growth of buying ads through real-time bidding (RTB). As you’re likely aware, real-time bidding just means buying media in an online auction (don’t worry if you weren’t aware – I had to ask Cam for a simple definition and he was nice enough to oblige).
RTB advertising has had crazy growth since Vovia started, and it’s been a huge part of Vovia’s growth too. Cam realized pretty early on the importance of RTB and jumped in with both feet to take advantage of this, turning it into a major component of our service offering. To this day, it remains a big point of differentiation for us as we manage a number of self-serve RTB channels (Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) in addition to Programmatic channels (think DSP’s like Google Marketing Platform/Doublclick, Media Math, and Turn), whereas many agencies outsource this work to managed DSP services. Keeping the management of these channels in-house has allowed us to have the ability to optimize these campaigns ourselves and generate better results for our clients, which I’m pretty sure Cam would tell you, has been a key to our success over the past 12 years.
Cam’s answer to my question about his favourite part of working here tells you a lot about him: it’s working with such smart people, constant learning, and being challenged every day. I think it’s those things that helped Cam and the early Vovia team succeed, and still does to this day. Though he did admit that in the success he and Vovia have had, “there was some good timing and luck involved”, I think it might also have something to do with the ability to jump in with both feet and keep looking forward.
If you want to take a walk down memory lane a bit more, you can check out Cam’s original Get to Know blog post. And keep a lookout for our next post in this milestone series!